If you’ve got an upcoming nicotine test you’ve probably got plenty of questions like does nicotine show up on a drug test, how long does tobacco stay in your system, or how to get nicotine out of your system fast. That’s why we created this quick guide to ensuring you pass.
Nicotine testing is becoming more and more popular with employers and insurers, which is not surprising given that smoking is well known to be one of the worst things you can do for your health. Nicotine tests are the most reliable way to find out if someone is a smoker. These tests can be done for several reasons; some employers do it as a condition of employment, insurers may do it to determine the costs of your health or life insurance policies. In cases of insurance two people with very similar backgrounds can face a significant price difference in their policies based on whether they pass or fail a nicotine test.
While these tests do an excellent job of weeding out smokers from the pack of non-smokers, they do not differentiate between smokers and those who have quit and are using NRTs or Nicotine Replacement Therapies. This includes people utilizing gums, patches, and vaporizers to help them quit smoking. Vapers and other NRT users are up against some unfair conditions with these tests. On that note, we’ve put together this guide to help people understand how the variations of testing work, and how to pass a nicotine test.
Types of Tests
There are several conventional methods of nicotine testing. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, for instance, how long does nicotine stay in urine is much different than how long does nicotine stay in blood. Here we will take a more in-depth look at the various types of testing.
Saliva tests are rapidly becoming the most common test for nicotine. The accuracy of these tests has increased the number of employers and insurance companies utilizing them. It is easier and more cost effective than many of the other test types, giving a strong reason for their popularity. In this test, an employer will be sent swabs in self-sealing containers. Then the individual’s mouth is swabbed and once an adequate amount of saliva is collected the swab is sealed and sent to a lab for testing. The test then comes back with a simple positive or negative.
While these tests are accurate enough, they are still the least reliable of the popular testing types. Saliva testing can only detect a third of the levels found in blood tests and a fifteenth of that found in urine. It is because of these possible inaccuracies that many employers still opt for the other tests.
Where saliva tests are quick and easy, blood tests are invasive and somewhat of a hassle. The most invasive of all the testing options, blood tests require the person being tested to visit a lab, and they need a trained technician to draw the blood. These requirements also make blood testing somewhat expensive. These factors mean that blood testing is often one of the less frequently used types of test.
But how long does nicotine stay in your blood? While they may be a hassle, blood tests are very accurate. There are two different versions of nicotine testing available. The first is a simple pass or fail. The second is a little more advanced, breaking down specifics of the levels found. This type of detailed testing offers a deeper understanding of that person’s behaviors, which can have a significant effect.
Nicotine urine tests is done by placing a strip in the urine sample which then gives a positive or negative reading. While these tests are relatively standard and lower cost than blood testing, they are also the most accurate.
Urine offers the highest concentration of the detectable chemicals, so how long does nicotine stay in your urine can vary. This means it is accurate when testing for smaller levels of nicotine in your system overall. That amount of accuracy makes urine testing enticing to businesses and insurers, and as a result, it’s one of the most commonly used methods.
For accuracy and reliability, no test beat hair testing. That said hair testing also requires the most time, hassle, and expense. This test is most often used if other tests come back inconclusive. This means hair testing is only used if there is doubt from another trial. Hair is in many ways the most accurate but also the most intimidating of the tests; this is because hair can contain detectable levels of nicotine up to three months.
How Long Is Nicotine Detectable?
An important topic to understand further is how long you can expect nicotine to stay in your system? In truth nicotine itself does not stay in your system for more than a few days. Most of the tests we’ve referred to are testing for cotinine. Cotinine is the chemical resulting when your liver processes nicotine. So the real key to passing a nicotine test is passing a cotinine test.
The amount of time that cotinine stays in your system is substantially longer, but this is also subject to a lot of variables including your gender, ethnic background, medications you take, or your diet. In one example a man and a woman could stop smoking on the same day at the same time, eat the same foods, drink the same amount of water. When they are tested, the man would likely have a higher level of cotinine.
In most cases, people will test cotinine free after a week, but in some cases, it can be as far out as two weeks. As the science surrounding these tests advances, the difference between a pass or fail comes down to a smaller margin.
Ensure You Pass
Products and homemade remedies that claim to be able to clear nicotine out of your system fast are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, there is no scientific truth backing them up. Some people may swear by them, but the surest way to pass a test is to refrain from nicotine consumption for a few weeks. Unless you are a long time human chimney level smoker, you should test cotinine free within two or three weeks.
Stopping nicotine intake, even if it is only temporary, is not easy or straightforward. For vapers, or those open to switching, you’ll want to start using zero nicotine versions of your favorite e-liquids. If the test is a few months out, maybe start working on reducing your nicotine intake over that time. Then the switch to 0mgs will be more comfortable. If you are only a week or two out, you’ll want to make the switch as soon as possible. With this method, the cotinine will be able to flush out of your system while you are still able to use vaping to help fight cravings. The other key is making sure to drink an abundance of water so that you can flush out your system as much as possible. With this method, many people are astonished at how quickly they can pass a nicotine test. Just make sure if you are struggling to reach out and get support from those who have been in your shoes, or focus on what benefits you will gain from passing this test.
Why Should You Care?
If your test comes back positive for nicotine or cotinine, you will have to face the consequences. That could be not getting the job paying more for your health insurance, or being denied life insurance.
There is still hope that things will improve for vapers if society becomes more accepting of it. There are also things you may be able to look into with your insurers. For instance, some companies have recently updated guidelines for policyholders who use NRTs, or that take into account that vaping has been proven to be 95% safer than smoking. If you are willing to do over the phone counseling sessions about the process of quitting smoking cigarettes some companies are also willing to bring down the cost of your insurance.
While there are some of these options out there they are still far and few between. It is because of this that it is so vital vapers make sure to research the companies and providers they are applying too.
In the public eye, vaping is still seen as being unhealthy despite evidence that it is substantially better than smoking. Research continues to prove the value vaping has to harm reduction and smoking cessation purposes. As this research piles up there are hopefully going to be more companies that change their guidelines on the matter.
Until these stances change, it is best for vapers and other NRT users to refrain from nicotine usage for a few weeks and reap the benefits. These are getting the job, getting life insurance, or paying hundreds or thousands of dollars less a year for health coverage. When you’re struggling to commit to the switch, remember that.